Fidelio Press Release – Shareholder Engagement, the Board and IR

London, 7th September 2016 – Fidelio kicks off September with a sharp focus on the Board’s role in shareholder engagement and IR.

 Shareholder engagement by Boards is on the increase. This doesn’t mean that the CEO or IR team are being undermined or subverted. It does mean that Boards are striving to better understand the motivations and thinking of shareholders and to ensure open channels of communication. Increasingly Boards also care deeply about the calibre of IR.”

Gillian Karran-Cumberlege, Head of Board Practice, Fidelio

On 1st September, FTSE 100 IR Directors debated “Effective IR in Times of Market Dislocation ” at Fidelio’s IR breakfast. On 6th September, Fidelio argued at the Strategia Conference on Boards, Executives and Shareholders in Icelandthat the Board cannot abdicate shareholder engagement, particularly if seeking access to international capital. And last but not least, on 7th September, Fidelio published a ground-breaking White Paper Shareholder Engagement, the Board and IR ” with deep insight into why IR is firmly on the Board agenda.

Fidelio is a Board Development and Executive Search consultancy specialising in senior roles which are critical for shareholders and stakeholders. Drawing on the substantial market expertise of Gillian Karran-Cumberlege, Head of Fidelio’s Board Practice and former Group Head of IR, Volkswagen AG & UBS AG; Danielle Neben, Board Member, Landsbankinn and former IRO, HSBC; as well as the Fidelio Research team, in its most recent IR White Paper, Fidelio argues:

  • Shareholder engagement is increasingly on the Board agenda
  • Key drivers include enhanced governance such as the Stewardship Code urging greater investor engagement with Boards and management; as well as the threat of increased US-style investor activism
  • Boards need the skills to understand investors and to ensure effective engagement with the market – at Board and executive level
  • IR Directors at the top of their game have a major contribution to make in strengthening shareholder engagement, including at Board level
  • Despite this, Fidelio still sees evidence of a glass ceiling for senior IR Directors in some major markets
  • Diversity is often assumed to be a non-issue for IR but this should not be taken for granted. It is as critical for IR as it is for the Board. As such, shareholder engagement is a key strand of Fidelio’s flagship “A Seat at the Table” Programme to strengthen the pipeline of female CEOs and Chairmen

In the White Paper, Fidelio provides an update on the standing of the IR profession across the US, UK, Germany, Scandinavia, and Asia-Pacific markets. While internationally IR is coming of age, there are key distinctions between markets including in terms of upward mobility. The IR profession must think clearly about how to maintain its influence.

Danielle Neben provides two case studies the first reviewing the very public Knight Vinke activist engagement in HSBC and its implications for Board-level shareholder engagement; the second looks as how Iceland is rebuilding governance since the Financial Crisis – placing responsibility on Boards to step up oversight and engagement.

Fidelio’s White Paper concludes that effective shareholder engagement must include the Board. Communication is undoubtedly more complex in times of heightened populism and geo-political risk. Getting it right benefits valuation and reputation. It also underpins the licence to operate. The ability to engage with shareholders – via management but also directly – is a key competence for Boards and firmly on the Chairman’s radar.

Contact: To learn more about how Fidelio supports Chairmen and CEOs through Search and Development to ensure strong shareholder engagement / IR capability, please contact Gillian Karran-Cumberlege.

To receive the full copy of Fidelio’s White Paper, please contact Luke Main.

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